Pick of the Day: 1991 Lotus Elan M100, a low-mileage exotic sports car

The roadster is an attainable and reliable entry from the fabled British car builder

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The Elan offers exotic exclusivity without the high costs

I grew up in the late ’70s and ’80s and have always loved exotic cars from such brands as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and Aston Martin.  I have had the opportunity over the years to own quite a few of them, and while they often delivered on my expectations, it came at a pretty steep price.

That included not only the high price to acquire but the endless costs associated with owning them. Most of the cars were older, and the parts and the cost to service could be daunting.


There are a few cars that deliver on the classic exotic car experience that do not include the high costs of living with them. And there is at least one 1990s exotic for which even the cost of the car is reasonable: the Lotus Elan M100.

The Pick of the Day is a 1991 Lotus Elan M100 advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in O’Fallon, Illinois, who notes that the roadster has covered only 38,000 miles from new.

The Elan M100 was designed by Lotus in the 1980s while the British automaker was owned by General Motors. It was a new kind of car for Lotus, a front-wheel-drive roadster with an engine sourced from Isuzu.

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The production version of the Elan M100 was designed by none other than Peter Stevens, known most for his design of the McLaren F1 that was introduced a few years later.

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The Elan is an amazing car with strong performance, with 0-60 times in around 6.5 seconds and amazing handling, and a well-equipped and comfortable cockpit. It had only one problem. Well, actually two.

The first was that it was expensive when new, costing around $40,000, more than the cost of a fully loaded Corvette.

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The second problem was named Miata. It was Mazda’s new classic British-inspired roadster that came out around the same time as the Elan, and it cost much less than the Lotus. While not offering the same exclusivity or performance as the Elan, the Miata was a huge hit and chosen by most people who wanted a classic sports car. That resulted in Elan production of only 3,855 cars with an estimated 600 sold in the U.S.

Still, these are fantastic cars from behind the wheel, and you would never guess that the front wheels are powering the car by its handling or performance. An added bonus is that most Lotus owners consider the Elan M100 to be the single most reliable and affordable-to-own Lotus that was ever built.

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So, what does the exclusivity of the fabled Lotus badge on the hood of this low-mileage Monaco White roadster cost to take home? The asking price is $19,500. That’s a great deal for this exotic sports car.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Nice pick, Andy. Would’ve been mine, over the Miata, at least. I’ve always been in love with the Europa, sitting still, anyway.

    • Ha! The Europa has always been my favorite Lotus- since the submarine Esprit wasn’t real, anyway.
      However, I am both long of leg and round in shape; if I did manage to get into a Europa, it’d take the jaws of life to get me out.
      Still, this Elan is pretty nice.

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